One of my favorite hashtags is #blessed. It’s most used by super models, girls whose boyfriends buy them flowers just because, and people on vacation. I was watching a show called Strange Sex on Netflix with my friend Connor one night and the episode we happened to be watching was about a large girl, Fransis, who was born without a vagina. Fransis endured a painful surgery for her husband who married her sans a vagina, but who now wished she had one so that they could have intercourse. The episode ended with the words- Today Fransis has a husband, a new vagina, and a good sex life splashed across the television screen against a black background. “That’s how she spells Fransis?” I couldn’t believe it. Connor hit the pause button on the remote control, “I’m going to Instagram that,” he told me getting up to get his phone. He snapped a picture of the words on the TV and then looked at me, “What should the hashtag be?” he asked. I thought for a moment, thinking about Fransis, her husband and her new vagina. “Hashtag blessed,” I said.
There’s the reality television shows on channels like E! or MTV, where reality is everyone is rich and pretty, and then there’s the reality on channels like TLC and Lifetime, where reality is everyone is overweight and totally fucked up. After watching Strange Sex, Connor and I watched an episode of My Strange Addiction and were introduced to Kesha, an overweight black woman who eats toilet paper. “I’ve been eating tissue for twenty-three years,” she told us.
“Kesha, why you gotta eat toilet paper?” her sister asked Kesha at a diner where they were both having lunch. Across the table Kesha reached into her purse pulling out a zip lock bag with sheets of tissue used for wiping yourself or blowing your nose. “You want some?” she asked her sister. “Kesha, eating toilet tissue ain’t normal, aren’t you worried that shits gonna get all backed up?” her sister shoved some pancakes in her mouth shaking her head in disgust. Kesha sat in silence, her eyes big and worried, looking around the restaurant anxiously before placing a thin square of toilet paper gently onto her tongue and then closing her mouth.
Connor and I sat staring at the TV, our faces scrunched up and twisted in pain and confusion, unable to move. “Other addicts,” Kesha told us, “Like people addicted to alcohol or pills, they can just throw that stuff away, not buy it or have it in their house. But toilet paper? There’s no escaping toilet paper.” “Well shit,” Connor said, “She makes a good point.”
We went along with Kesha as she visited a doctor, who asked her if she ever had stomach discomfort or problems. “Sometimes I can’t go to the bathroom,” Kesha confessed. “She’s backed up!” I exclaimed, completely stressed out. The episode ended with Kesha admitting her addiction to a therapist who basically told her, “Yeah you have to stop doing that.” Today Kesha still eats toilet tissue, the narrator of the show reported. The screen went black and Connor and I sat in silence, letting it all sink in, not knowing how to carry on now that Fransis and Kesha had entered our lives. “What’s the next episode?” I asked Connor. “Obsessed with death,” he told me pushing play on the remote as a woman wearing a black hooded cloak and wandering around a cemetery appeared. “I just love the idea of death and everything related to it-cemeteries, coffins, ouija boards..I just love death,” she told Connor and I. “Go on..tell us more,” we replied.